Welcome to the Joint Conference IAAP / University of Basel

University of Basel, October 18-20 2018

Theoretical Foundations of Analytical Psychology

Recent Developments and Controversies


Carl Gustav Jung began his academical career at the University of Basel and received international reputation for his empirical studies with the “association experiment”, and throughout his writings he kept emphasizing the primarily empirical nature of his work. Today, more than a century after Jung’s early studies, the conference will focus on major theoretical concepts of analytical psychology: the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious, the notion of complexes, the theory of archetypes, and the status of analytical psychotherapy in contemporary psychotherapy research. For each of these fields, renowned speakers will present overviews of the current debate together with ongoing research in the field. The conclusions for each topic will be summarized in a panel discussion, where experts will reflect different positions as well as open questions and desirable developments. The aim of the conference is to further research on the theoretical foundations of analytical psychology in relation to results and insights in contiguous areas of knowledge.


The conference is organized by Prof. Dr. Christian Roesler, who holds a teaching position for Analytical Psychology at the University of Basel, Department of Psychology, and Dr. Harald Atmanspacher of ETH Zürich/Collegium Helveticum in cooperation with the IAAP. The conference will open on Thursday evening, October 18, 2018, with a keynote presentation by Mark Solms, Cape Town/South Africa, on the insights from the neurosciences which have formed a new foundation for psychoanalysis in the last years. On the following two days, the conference will focus on three major topics: 1. the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious and complex theory, 2. archetype theory, 3. psychotherapy research and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, each of which will be discussed by two speakers, who will present the state of the debate as well as current controversies, followed by a panel discussion. Speakers will include George Hogenson, Chicago/USA, John Merchant, Sydney/Australia, Isabelle Meier, ISAP Zurich/Switzerland, Prof. Dr. Michael Buchholz, International Psychoanalytic University Berlin/Germany, Joe Cambray, Pacifica Institute, Santa Barbara/USA, Denise Ramos, Sao Paolo/Brazil, Philip Kime, Zurich/Switzerland and others.



I. The relationship of consciousness and unconscious


In the first years of his career Jung, in his Association studies, was able to provide empirical evidence for the existence of a dynamic unconscious, by forming the concept of complexes. Whereas the existence of an unconscious in the psychoanalytic sense was denied by academical psychology for decades, today the situation has changed considerably. Even in contemporary cognitive psychology the existence of unconscious mental processes is not denied anymore. An important part in this development have taken the neurosciences, where considerable evidence was found for the existence of task oriented unconscious processes, even in the sense of Freud’s mechanism of suppression. Concepts similar to the complex in the sense of Jung were “reinvented”, e.g. schema in schema therapy. Nevertheless the seminal contribution made by Jung is often underestimated or even not mentioned. In this section of the conference developments from different scientific fields are presented which support Jung’s concepts of the complex and the unconscious.


 II. The controversy around the concept of archetypes

Even though the concept of the archetype may be considered as central to analytical psychology, from the beginning there has been controversy around its theoretical and empirical foundation. Today, based on the insights from genetics and the life sciences, the idea of transmission of archetypes from one generation to the other via genes is strongly criticized or even questioned. Nevertheless analytical psychology and Jungian psychotherapy are based on the idea of universal archetypes. There have been many attempts to form new theoretical foundations for arguing for universal archetypes, e.g. based on emergence theory or developmental systems theory, but still no fully satisfying theoretical conceptualization is at hand. In this section of the conference the state of the debate will be presented by outstanding protagonists of different approaches to archetype theory.


III. Analytical Psychology, Psychoanalysis and contemporary Psychotherapy Research

Jungian psychotherapy has succeeded to become an integral part of the field of psychotherapy in the healthcare systems of many countries all over the world. In recent years in a number of countries Jungians have come under pressure for providing empirical evidence for the effectiveness of their approach. On the other hand the empirical paradigm in psychotherapy research is linked with controversy about how to reasonably study the effects of psychotherapy. In this section of the conference an overview will be given on the stage of the arts in psychotherapy research with special emphasis on psychodynamic psychotherapies. Additionally, the research on the effectiveness of Jungian psychotherapy will be summarized, followed by a discussion on how research can and should be conducted for investigating our therapeutic approach in the future.